Bisbee's Los Cabo Offshore wrap-up

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    Baja Bytes Baja Editor BD Writer

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    October 16, 2015; Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur:
    By Capt. Dave Lear

    In a normal year the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez are teeming with bait and large apex predators with long, pointy noses. But 2015 is not a normal year. Instead it has been one of the strongest El Niño cycles in decades, one that will directly impact the 95 boats competing in the Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore Tournament starting this afternoon.

    The El Niño pattern occurs when warm, nutrient-poor water replaces the cooler—and nutrient-rich—Humboldt Current over an extended period. That causes bait to move and the game fish typically follow. Southern California has enjoyed an epic offshore bite this summer, but even with the warmer-than-usual conditions off Cabo, quality fish are still being caught.

    “All the blue marlin are up north,” says Dave Christman, owner of the Jeri Lynn, a 65 Viking and a Bisbee’s tournament regular. “The blacks are still around, though. And they’ve all been caught off the banks, on bait, and they’re all running between 410 to 420 pounds. That’s what will win it this week.”

    “Patience is always the key,” adds Ed McClinton, a team member on Loose Crew, a 38 Luhrs that placed in both the LCO and Black & Blue last year. “It’s a matter of understanding the water and weather and putting your time in. There are going to be less fish around this year. The migrating fish are following the current. But the local fish, those that return to this area year after year, are still going to be out there and you just have to be at the right spot at that one period in the tidal cycle when they are ready to eat.”

    Buddies Mike Miller of Alaska and Tom Sozio of Boston, Massachusetts, have been fishing Cabo for the last 25 years. This will be their second year competing in the Los Cabos Offshore aboard Lovely Rita, a 28 Pursuit, and the team has a simple approach for winning.

    “We’re just going to go out there and catch the biggest fish,” Miller says, followed by a confidential laugh.

    With a record $638,000 in prize money on the line, plus a record number 96 boats, there’s no question a lot of water—albeit warm—will be covered the next two days. Fishing begins at 8 a.m. with lines out at 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Eligible species include blue and black marlin weighing more than 300 pounds, tuna and dorado. The 2015 LCO is sponsored by the host Tesoro Resort, Pelagic High Performance Offshore Gear, Costa and Baja Cantina.

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    October 17, 2015; Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur:
    By Capt. Dave Lear

    So much for El Niño tantrums.

    The expected tough conditions due to warmer-than-usual water temperatures didn’t seem to hamper the 95 boats competing in this year’s Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore Fishing Tournament Saturday. Several qualifying fish were weighed on Day One as Radio Control stayed busy logging more released billfish. With a record payout of $629,000, the competition is fierce.

    First to the scales was Scott Oliver and his team aboard Salsa, a 70 Hatteras Convertible. Soaking a live skipjack tuna near the Jaime Bank, the crew was working the area when two rods went off. A striped marlin quickly spit the hook, but after a 29-minute battle a large yellowfin came to the gaff. It tipped the scales at 165.1 pounds and would never relinquish that early lead.

    “That was my biggest tuna by about 120 pounds,” an exhausted Oliver said afterwards. This is Oliver’s fourth year fishing the LCO.

    “It was a little lumpy out there,” added Salsa skipper Shawn Baker of Cabo San Lucas. “It was blowing about 20 knots with seas running two to four feet. We stopped to live bait and had a double. The stripey confused the issue for a few minutes, but we got the tuna.”

    Newcomer Michael Moretti and his team aboard Tranquilo were next to the scales. Using one of his own acrylic lures, a green and silver Bart’s Big Game plunger, the Costa Rica angler outlasted a 399-pound black marlin after a battle lasting about 30 minutes. Tranquilo was trolling in the Pacific when the marlin pounced.

    “This is awesome. But I can’t wait for the day to be over,” Moretti said after Weigh master Jack Teschel announced the outcome to the large crowd watching. As it turns out, Tranquilo’s lead was safe since no other marlin would come to the scales. With the team entered across the board in all optional jackpot entries, the potential payout on that single fish could exceed $200,000.

    Two other boats made late charges at the tuna leader board only to come up just a little short. Ryan Duckworth on Flora T II landed a yellowfin weighing 146.9 pounds on the only live bait the boat caught, a frisky bonito. Flora T II was also fishing around the Jaime Bank.

    The seasoned Cabo crew of Red Rum/Carnales Viejos, fishing aboard Black Betty, a 37 Merritt, also maintained the suspense. Angler Luis Vela, trolling a black and purple Moldcraft Wide Range, fooled another big yellowfin. The 153-pound fish was finally boated after a 45-minute fight.

    Eligible species in the Los Cabos Offshore include blue and black marlin exceeding 300 pounds, as well as tuna and dorado. The two game fish must weigh at least 30 and 40 pounds, respectively, and only the largest fish in each category wins the daily prize money. One dorado was brought to the scales Saturday, but it failed to meet the minimum threshold.

    Fishing continues again tomorrow for another round of daily cash prizes. The weigh scales open at 3 p.m. at the Puerto Paraiso Mall in downtown Cabo San Lucas. If today’s action is any indicator, anything is possible. Especially when you’re dealing with a temperamental brat.

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    October 19, 2015; Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur:
    By Capt. Dave Lear

    Christopher Altbaum picked the perfect time to catch his largest tuna ever. The Go Deeper/Sea Fever team member outlasted a hefty 238-pound yellowfin to claim the top daily honors in the second and last day of fishing in the 2015 Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore Tournament.

    “The fight wasn’t that long but it felt like all day,” a tired Altbaum said afterwards. “The guys were all hollering at me, giving instructions. I had a lot of positive reinforcement. Basically it was one boxer in a slugfest with nine coaches cheering me on.”

    The big tuna hit moments after the live caballito bait was put in the water near the Jaime Bank. Altbaum was using a Penn International 50 reel loaded with 100-pound line and a 300-pound fluorocarbon leader with a circle hook.

    Tuna were definitely the focal point Sunday. In addition to Go Deeper’s fish, four others were weighed yesterday afternoon. Mike Hayes on Salsa got the party started with a 99.1-pounder. Dave Christman on Geri Lynn quickly topped that by putting a 139.8-pound yellowfin on the scoreboard.

    Mike Timon on Knot Workin’ whipped his 161.5-pound specimen after a fight lasting an hour and 15 minutes. His first-place hold was short-lived, however, when Brad Erickson on El Burro III hoisted his entry aloft a few minutes later. It would register 167.8 pounds, but Go Deeper would later top that. In the game fish divisions, only the largest fish of each day wins. No dorado were weighed on Sunday and two blue marlin came to the scales but neither were close to the 300-pound minimum to qualify.

    Although his tuna was knocked out, Christman had the strangest fish tale to tell. After hooking up and a normal start to his fight, a free-swimming thresher shark trailing a large wad of fishing line became entangled in the line connected to the tuna. Although he said it nearly killed him, Christman was able to wind both fish in without breaking the line. The thresher was cut loose and the tuna was finally boated.

    With a record 95 boats and $629,000 in prize money, the 2015 LCO concluded Sunday night with an awards banquet hosted Baja Cantina on Medano Beach.
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    October 19, 2015; Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur:
    By Capt. Dave Lear

    The 2015 Los Cabos Offshore Tournament was one for the record books, literally. With an all-time high of 95 boats, an overall purse of $629,300 and top dollars to the winning boat, this “warm-up” for the Bisbee’s Black & Blue has certainly come into its own.
    Angler Michael Moretti and his Costa Rican team aboard Tranquilo were the big winners by virtue of the only qualifying marlin, a 399-pound black, caught on Saturday. Victor Julio is the Tranquilo’s skipper. That catch earned $460,200 as the heaviest marlin to sweep all jackpot entries.

    “I’m just very happy for my team,” Moretti said after the celebratory fireworks faded behind the awards stage at the Baja Cantina Beach Club. “This is awesome.”

    Sea Fever and angler Christopher Altbaum also earned a hefty payday after boating the largest tuna, a 238-pound yellowfin. In addition to the top fish in the tuna game fish division, it also captured the second day jackpot for a total of $104,500.

    The biggest tuna for Saturday—165.1 pounds—won angler Scott Oliver, Capt. Shawn Baker and Team Salsa $64,600. No qualifying dorado were weighed, so that money was split into the tuna prizes.

    Twelve-year-old Kaleb Richardson put on an angling clinic for his elders by releasing 12 striped marlin over the two days. That effort earned Expedition honors as the top release boat. Uno Mas was second with four stripers and five sailfish, followed by For The Gold with five striped and one blue marlin released. The release teams won trophies and Costa sunglasses for their tallies.

    A total of 139 striped marlin, 22 blue marlin, 16 sailfish and one black were caught by the 632 anglers competing. Fifteen yellowfin were also boated. Two weighed blue marlin were disqualified after failing to meet the 300-pound minimum. None of those boated fish went to waste, however.

    Feeding Los Cabos Kids, a local ministry dedicated to providing protein to underprivileged kids in the region, was the other big winner this week. Founder Donna Brnjic and volunteers including Dave and Jen Limpert collected the donated 2,144 pounds of fish, which will feed 8,576 kids in the barrios around Cabo San Lucas and San Jose. The tournament also donated a vacuum-sealer to the group.

    “Our motto is changing lives one child at a time,” Jen Limpert says. “We sincerely thank the Bisbee family for allowing us to feed thousands of kids.” The group will also be manning a booth during the Black & Blue to collect more fish donations.

    “Well, it’s definitely time to finally drop the ‘Little Bisbees’ tag line,” says LCO Director Wayne Bisbee. “The Los Cabos Offshore Tournament truly is a world-class event and has earned that honor this week. We had some great fish, gave away record amounts of money and helped a wonderful charity in the process. It really has been a winning combo.”

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